Remember when you blasted into space, as a little kid? Did you make your space ship out of an empty cardboard box, or did you just project yourself inside of a toy space shuttle? Did you ever try to make the fish-bowl space helmet, or tin foil antennae?
Chances are that when you weren’t thinking about politics that surrounded every step of your journey. You were probably more worried about what you would said to the moon men, than the Soviets getting to space before you, and whether or not that meant they could drop bombs on your head.
The two-man cast of One Small Step, mounted by the Oxford Playhouse and presented through this weekend at the Paramount Black Box through ArtsEmerson, worries about all of these considerations, as the they take you through the entirety of the Space Race in an hour, using the sort of props you might find in your parents’ attic.
One Small Step is a step up from simply imaginative and fun because actors Robin Hemmings and Oliver Millingham manage to reveal the fact that they know these are in many way serious events, they just refuse to present them seriously. As if to say these were more naïve times, they view the 60’s through childish eyes, delighting equally in their caricatures of brash and menacing Russians in strangely pointy pillow-case helmets, and the earnest and over-eager Americans, exasperated that they are lagging behind.
The company’s consistent butchering of the accents of both nations (all Americans are southern by the way, right through Richard Nixon), serves as a reminder that the perspective on offer is from a third party, Britain, who never got their own space program off the ground, but watched on eagerly with a horse in the race and an equal view of the moon.
One Small Step is goofy, but it’s meaningful goofiness. A child-like take on an epic event of history that feels far in the past but never grows old as food for the imagination.
One Small Step Plays through October 24 at the Paramount Black Box